In Rome, a vagrant finds the body of a teen girl, her throat professional slashed. Police inspector Olmi uses his brutal and violent methods to follow a trail that leads him toward high government officials. When his methods leave an innocent bystander dead, the corrupt officials have an excuse to get Olmi transferred to a coastal town where the pace is slow and he has time for a romantic dalliance. Soon, Olmi discovers that fishing isn't the only local occupation, and out comes his gun and his ruthless tactics of investigation.
A country family of five takes in cousin Julia, whose parents recently perished in a car crash. Julia extends her influence over the family and those around them, fooling all except for Rachel, the teenaged girl who knows her cousin is up to no good.
Spoofing the entire 1940s detective genre, and his own performances as a bumbling private detective, Peter Falk plays Lou Pekinpaugh, a San Francisco private detective accused of murdering his partner at the instigation of his mistress, the partner's wife, Georgia Merkle.